Blanco Masonic Lodge # 216 will celebrate its 150th birthday in a special Sesquicentennial celebration on January 19. Activities are scheduled from 11:30 – 2:00 PM, with a meal served at noon. The festivity will feature entertainment and fellowship. Local community leaders will be introduced and honored. Special guest for the occasion will be Hon. R:W: Tommy Griffin, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas.
Dobie Benson, current Master of Blanco Masonic Lodge, said, "We've been working on this celebration for the last four years. It is a tremendous accomplishment for our Lodge. We're inviting everyone—not just masons and their families—but everyone to this celebration. Dress is casual."
"We've scheduled Hold'er, Newt! for our musical entertainment. They play music from the late 1800s—music that is the origin of bluegrass and country. Dennis Moore has arranged to have two chuck wagons set up, and we'll be preparing the noon meal in Dutch ovens. We're planning on stew, cornbread, chili, beans, and cobbler. In addition, we're going to have some Civil War re-enactors here. We're trying to replicate 150 years ago—what things might have been like."
Blanco Masonic Lodge # 216 was formally chartered by the Grand Lodge of Texas on January 19, 1858. Grand Master of Texas William Steadman signed the charter, which includes the names of three local officers: Neil Robison, Master; Robert Harrison, Senior Warden; and Jno Ls. Hodges, Junior Warden.
Records show that as early as August 3, 1857, Robison and other masons petitioned Deputy Grand Master John E. Cravens for a dispensation to meet as Twin Sisters Lodge at Hodges Mills on Curry's Creek in Comal County. Their petition was approved, as this Twin Sisters Lodge # 216 met under dispensation for monthly stated meetings on "…Saturdays on or proceeding the full moon each month at 2:00 PM." Records show that these meetings were held as scheduled, in addition to called meetings for special Masonic occasions such as funerals and the like.
At the beginning of the new Masonic year in January, 1858, lodges that had been operating under dispensations the previous term were presented at Grand Lodge for formal charter approval. The Grand Lodge of Texas formally chartered the Lodge on January 19, 1858.
Thus Blanco Lodge became the 216th Masonic Lodge to be chartered by the Grand Lodge of Texas, which itself had been in existence for twenty years, having been first founded in 1837. Its first Grand Master was Sam Houston, and its first chartered Lodge was Holland Lodge # 1 in Houston.
In 1859, Twin Sisters Lodge # 216 received permission from Grand Lodge to re-locate to Blanco; however, its name remained "Twin Sisters" until 1872, when the following petition to Grand Lodge was presented and approved:
To The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas—
Your petitioners Twin Sisters Lodge # 216 respectfully show that the name by which it is now known is an unknown and does not identify the location of the lodge.
Whereupon they pray permission of this Grand body to change the name of said Lodge to that of Blanco Lodge # 216 which fully identifies the location of said Lodge, it being situated in the town of Blanco and County of same name. And petitioners further pray that DDGM for their district be authorized to erase from the Charter of said Lodge the name of Twin Sisters and insert Blanco in lieu thereof, and petitioners will pray etc.
E T Rhodes, Proxy for the Lodge
Examined and Approved
Members of Blanco Lodge met in several locations throughout the past 150 years, most of them being in buildings on the square. It moved to its present location in 1974. This building had previously been a cabinet shop owned by Gilbert Klinger.
Clarence Waxler, a current member and past master of Blanco Lodge # 216, was active in the Lodge when it celebrated its Centennial celebration in 1958. According to Waxler, "I remember it being real cold and windy. We had a ceremony at Twin Sisters Dance Hall. We had Bar-B-Q to eat. I remember it being a real cold day."
Mike Smith, a past master of the Lodge, wrote a history of the Lodge for Blanco County Heritage, published in 1987. He has a particular interest in one item of business carried over from his term as master in 1987:
"We were celebrating Texas' Sesquicentennial. We created a 'Traveling Trowel.' It was a trowel with Masonic engravings attached to a plaque on which the following rules were stated:
1. Must travel from lodge to lodge only in the possession of a Master Mason.
2. Must travel in an easterly direction.
3. Appropriate comments are to be entered in an accompanying book.
4. The trowel visits the Masonic Lodge in Terowie, South Australia. (Terowie is Blanco's sister city).
5. It returns to Blanco on or before January 19, 2008, the date of our Sesquicentennial."
Smith goes on to say, "I haven't heard anything about the trowel in about a year. I know at that time it was overseas somewhere. It may be in somebody's closet somewhere—I don't know. I'm interested to see if it will turn up."
Today, Blanco Masonic Lodge # 216 claims over 86 members, and takes an active role in supporting community activities such as Highway 281 trash pick-up, the Yett Park playground, sponsorship of the annual Blanco Classic Car Show, scholarships, Lamar Medal presentations, Texas Public Schools Week, Take-Time-To-Read, Thanksgiving Care and Share dinners, and more.
Information for this article was taken from: Minutes of Twins Sisters Lodge # 216; Charter of Blanco Masonic Lodge # 216; Pete Normand, PM, The Texas Mason, Texas Lodge of Research; Mike Smith, "Blanco Masonic Lodge # 216 AF & AM," Blanco County Heritage, published 1987.